News & Spotlights

The Future of our Water Planet

October 1, 2018

The article below is the first of a 3-part series telling the story of a company at the forefront of an evolution in water processing technology —leading through innovation, persistence, trust, customer service, and spirit toward the perfection of a product to treat the dirtiest of industrial wastewaters on the planet.

The Evolution of Water Processing Technology

MG_3105The Earth, as viewed from space, is commonly referred to as a “Water Planet.” But in fact, only one one-hundredth percent (0.01%) of the earth’s vast water resources are fresh and usable by humans. While that tiny percentage of fresh water stays relatively constant, many other things on our water planet are changing.

Exponential population growth, emerging global economies, a changing climate and erratic weather patterns all point to an impending global water shortage. Preserving our fresh water for the benefit of humankind and the environment has become the great challenge of our time.

Leaders at Sumitomo Electric Group recognize the challenge and have made a bold commitment to fully engage the company’s resources to address escalating water demands.

At the beginning of 2000, the Sumitomo Electric Group developed water treatment membrane modules, POREFLON PTFE, and with that, the electric company entered the water treatment industry.

Today, those membrane modules are successfully operational in Japan, East Asia and North America. The passion and aspirations of Sumitomo Electric Group employees now lead efforts to solve global water problems and preserve our “Water Planet” Earth.

POREFLON Wins Big at a Petroleum Refinery in Asia

takao226The initial proving ground for POREFLON PTFE was a petroleum refinery in Asia where Sumitomo leaders and its technology team went head-to-head against existing membrane technology and another specified product – eventually winning the contract against all odds, and validating a superior product.

What started as a chance meeting at a water treatment exhibition in China, led to an opportunity for Sumitomo to pilot test it’s POREFLON technology with one of the leading local engineering firms.

The engineering firm was constructing a major oil refining plant and was studying membranes that could tackle the tough job of cleaning oil and mineralized wastewater at the new facility.

Pilot tests began in 2009 and when clogging issues arose, the Sumitomo leaders devoted the time and expertise required to pinpoint the problem and educate the operators on how to keep the POREFLON membranes in best operating condition.

Ultimately, it was the ability of POREFLON to withstand cleaning with strong chemicals (high concentration acids and alkalis) needed for treatment of refinery waste waters that proved its superiority to the competitor’s membrane. The Sumitomo team had faith in their product and worked hard to show its excellence.

In 2012, Sumitomo won the bid and received the order for installation of POREFLON at the refinery in Asia treating industrial wastewater containing oil at 6,000m3 per day. This large order was a game-changer for the Sumitomo Electric Group water treatment business.